|Link to this site|
Steve and Carol Girard founded Girard Winery in the Pritchard Hill area of Napa Valley in 1980 and were known for producing flavorful Cabernets and Chardonnays, but they fell in love with the Pinot Noirs from Oregon. Steve believed Oregon's Willamette Valley offered the ideal climate for world class Pinot Noir, but he had no desire to own two wineries. He did truck south grapes from Oregon to make Pinot Noir, but as he put it, "The wines were terrible."
Steve and Carol spent two years driving around Oregon and decided on an area between Eugene and Corvallis. In 1988 they bought the 1,860 acre Sunnymount Ranch, an old sheep ranch located in the southern Willamette Valley near Monroe which straddles both Benton and Lane counties. Planting commenced the next year. The vineyard is predominantly planted to Pinot Noir with seven clones on a variety of rootstocks. The estate 140-acre vineyard uses a combination of sustainable, organic and biodynamic farming methods.
Benton Lane employs pneumatage to manage the cap during fermentation, avoiding punch-downs and punch-overs. Pneumatage uses air bubbles injected into the bottom of the tank to slosh the cap and stir the pigments and body into the liquid. Steve feels that pump-overs and punch-downs tear the grape skins, unnecessarily releasing the bitter and tannic seeds into the unfinished wine.
Benton Lane Wines have a distinctive stamp image as a label. Two Pinot Noirs are produced: a value-priced estate-grown Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and an estate-grown First Class Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, only produced when a special lot of wine becomes available. The wines, including a Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc, are distributed in 49 states and several international markets and are available online.
Benton Lane is currently owned by Huneeus Vintners.
Benton Lane has won more "Top 100 Wines of the Year" honors than any still wine producer in Oregon.
2013 Benton-Lane Estate Grown Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., $25, screwcap. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, earthy flora and woodpile are underlain with a hint of matchstick reduction. Light to mid weight red cherry and berry fruits satisfy in this simple and forward wine that has a modest and grippy finish. The tannins are silky, making for easy enjoyment, but the mid palate is a bit shallow and the oak overlay sticks out. Score: 87. Reviewed July 9, 2016 ARTICLE »
2012 Benton-Lane First Class Estate Grown Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $65, screwcap. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Deep aromas of black cherry, black raspberry and blueberry-pomegranate. Nicely endowed with luscious, ultra ripe black cherry and blackberry fruit flavors accented with a hint of bourbon and spice. This wine packs plenty of power but is still refined in character, with a balancing vibrancy due to crisp acidity. The cleansing and intensely fruited finish leaves behind a pleasing impression. Score: 91. Reviewed July 9, 2016 ARTICLE »
2009 Benton Lane Estate Grown Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.55% alc., $20, screw cap. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Complex aromatic profile offering scents of dark red cherries, ripe raspberries, oak, tobacco and freshly tilled earth. A light to medium weight offering with savory flavors of dark red cherries and berries. A basic Pinot Noir that is reasonably refined with soft tannins and complimentary oak. Decent (+) Reviewed February 22, 2012 ARTICLE »
2008 Benton Lane Estate Grown Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.45%, pH 3.63, 16,670 cases, $26, screw cap. A featured winery at this year’s IPNC, Benton Lane was founded by Steve and Carol Girard in 1988. The stamp label is distinctive. 7 clones (Pommard, Wädenswil, Dijon 113, 114, 115, 667 and 777). Pneumatage employed (bubbles of air rise through fermenting wine breaking up the cap allowing excellent extraction of color and flavor. Aged 9 months in French oak barrels. Winemaker Chris Mazepink. · Lovely berry melange on the nose. An easy drinker that is light in the mouth with flavorful notes of spicy dark red berries with an earthy undertone. Ready to grace the dinner table now. Very good. Reviewed August 9, 2010 ARTICLE »
2008 Benton Lane Estate Grown First Class Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.75% alc., pH 3.77, 740 cases, $60. Classy label and screw cap. Only produced in special vintages. A selection of the best lots in the cellar aged 16 months in French oak barrels. The barrels were pre-blended to ensure consistency and then racked into barrels to complete the aging process. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Wonderful perfume of spiced dark cherry and berry fruits, anise, and red rose petals, picking up intensity over time. Delicious raspberry and cherry cola flavors cloaked in ripe, fine-grain tannins leading to a pleasingly aromatic and persistent finish. A sophisticated wine that is both sensual and beautifully crafted. This wine will find many fans. Reviewed August 9, 2010 ARTICLE »
2006 Benton Lane Oregon Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $20 (winery retail is $26), approximately 20,000 cases, screw cap. This family owned winery dates to 1988 and is located in the southern Willamette Valley in Monroe, about half way between Corvallis and Eugene. The 2007 version of this wine is in current release. · Lightly colored. Intense aromas of ripe red berries. Fresh strawberry and raspberry flavors with an underpinning of oak and spice. Supple tannins make for easy drinking. Everything you could ask for in a $20 Pinot Noir. Reviewed March 26, 2009 ARTICLE »